My ‘session’ at GALF 2016

Regional writing, developing dialogues- in all these ‘happenings’ my first novel The Shadow of the Temptress made its debut at the Goa Arts and Literature Festival (GALF) 2016 on the 10th December this year.

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GALF 2016 showcases and highlights writers and poets from a wide range of languages: Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Khasi and Asomiya from its inception in 2010. Besides the writers and artisits in Goa….I was happy to be part of it…

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There were artists from the North-East and Kashmir, as well as Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, and themes like Dalit writing, poetry, graphic novels, and translations. Dance too.

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With eminent Dr Fatima Gracias and Dr Cidalia Bodgode, my story unraveled.

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It is a tri dimensional story of the protagonist Sebastian who is crushed and influenced throughout his life by four women, which comes to the question. Were women in Goa empowered to take control of their homes way back in 1912? . The story unfolds in Goa and documents beliefs, traditions and culture during that period. It then moves to Bombay…another country..a stark contrast emerges. Where is the third dimension? It ends with a simple question. Does History repeat Itself?? Read to find out…..

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A beachnik Bonanza @ La Brise

God made earth and then that limitless horizon that touched the heavenly abode. You have the vantage point of sitting on soft undulating grains of sand and taking in His majestic creation….

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Yes the beaches of Goa do put a spell on you. And if you happen to be on one of the popular beaches…Candolim; then think about this. Opt for a beachnik.

A lovely concept which has been the pastime of the locals for many years… a picnic on the beach. But now La Brise…has taken this to a different level. A classy level, but still with the ‘old favs’ specially made for you.

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Hark back to the time when that picnic hamper would have….bread, cold meats, cold chicken leg, pork chops…… Its all laid there for you. With chef’s creating the ‘sizzle’ too. Nostalgic!!!

Want to strum the guitar? Technology rules. The vibe with music as you gaze out at the sea. Age does not matter.

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So watch the elements combine. The sand and the sea. Entwined..overlapping….a super combo! You remember the experience. The fun and frolic as it embraces you to carry on for the week ahead. And just that ‘mint’ for flavor.

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Sundays’ matter…It was a blast. Remember time and tide waits for no one, a swim, a shower, a meal. Want to paint those nails or braid your hair? This is the place. It’s time you were there.

Start them young

As a judge at the Mustifund High School to develop young Orators, one cannot but reminisce that Goans do have the gift for speech.

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Way back when Lucasinho Riberio performed at Sokol Vaddo in Assagao, much before Goa was liberated. And today there is a thriving academy that teaches them young

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So what is Tiatr? It is a unique form of dramatic art, neither prose nor a musical drama.But it does have both, A full length story divided into parts…perhaps 6 or 7. Each part is called a ‘pordho’ which may or may not have a ‘kant’ (song). The full length songs are known as a ‘kantaram’.

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The tiatr is based on social issues…social, politica;, religious and comedy is an essential part. An interesting one is ‘Eksiddentt’…a trio….  Tomazinho, Joao Cardozo and Eugene Cardozo sings a song, the crowd heartthrob, Sheikh Amir, doing what he does best – a drunkard comic act.  It’s a story of a man paralysed due an accident, all-in-all about the repercussions of an accident, it reveals the tragic implications on the family and the victim as well.

Entertaining, thought provoking…over the years this mode of entetainment has gained in strength. The power of the ‘voice’ holds sway.

Bite the Bullet

If you kill the smell, you will kill the drink. The euphoria created when a peg of this elixir moves down your gullet…its all about feni. And it’s an experience to savour when Goan Saraswat food accompanies it. This was a first.

Lets take the cashew apple. The Portuguese brought it into Goa to prevent deforestation. Well the local Goan a thrifty individual found use for the ‘nut’ And the best style to roast the nut is by ‘drum roasting’. A tedious long drawn out process…but worth it.

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What happens to the apple? That is the feni..a good digestive drink. But try the Neero or the Urak…cooling and refreshing in the summer season. The alcoholic strength of feni in local measure is known as a “Grao’. Get it right at 20 to 22 grao. Well check out Madame Rosa do it in style.

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At Voltaire, the new Saraswat eatery, the fenitier did things in style. Rocking to an invisible beat, he showcased the spirit in great mixes.

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Now a local traditional distiller will sell his product in a Khouso (pot). Madame Rosa does it differently. This year at the Defense Expo a new styled container…the Bullet, shot into the masses.

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And if you think that feni does not mix well with Saraswat food take another guess. It does a great combo with the dangar too. The Saraswat styled prawn cakes, spiced up the spirit to perfection. That is the way…dangar? danger? Just bite the bullet.

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Going on 70 with the ‘zest’ of living free

Today the 15th August 2016 is celebrated with pomp. We have completed 69 years of freedom. And celebrations continue in every place..This was how the Goa Marriott hotel and Spa celebrated it. They brought together the Festivals of India.

In Goa Festivals are not uncommon. We celebrate over 20 festivals in a year…from Ganesh Chaturti to Christmas.

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So what did the Festivals of India showcase at the Waterfront restaurant? Warmth and hospitality. Like the welcome offering of a drink…lassi or kokum sherbet.

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Can we go without the ‘spirit’ in Goa? No way. Have the theka ‘quarter’ local style. The Coriander Martini served in a ‘unique’ container tops the list.

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And then the food…stalls with chaat, kebabs, biryani, curries and mithai, the 10 best preparations from every state, what a spread. Including the ‘inspired’ apple jalebi’s from Himachal Pradesh.

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Color, happiness and zest…that is the essence of every festival, put it all together in one word…food. It’s the ‘freedom’ to experiment with preparations right across this diverse nation of ours. India has it all.

Say it with flowers

For every occasion, be it a marriage or a simple rosary before the cross, flowers has been the main focus of the people in Goa. There is even a village called the ‘Land of Flowers’..Assagao.


But never has any culinary preparation been scented or made with flowers. And so this was the first. At the Park Hyatt in Goa a sumptuously scented jasmine dinner was curated. It was one of the Masters of Food and Wine night.
A small cozy gathering at the Praia de Luz, the stellar lounge where the diners sipped on champagne and nibbled on bite sized snacks.

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And then it was the four course sit down in the elegant dining room reminiscent of the Portuguese past. Flowers suspended over the tables, jasmine scented ‘avater’ and the fine dine trappings set the mood.

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There was a choice of starters…the scallop carpaccio, carrot oil, micro greens, jasmine scented aioli. Apparently the jasmine flower was soaked in olive oil for over four hours to ‘extract’ the essence. Chandon Brut added its own touch to the palate.

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The risotto with a hint of fresh jasmine, 36 months aged parmigiano reggiano and Chandon Brut with the palete cleanser…the fresh lime and mint sorbet followed soon after. It was then the mains…pan seared seabass, green asparagus cream, jasmine veloute washed down with Moet et Chandon Brut. An interesting combination.

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The Chandon Rose bubbled in the glass…time for the dessert. Double chocolate and jasmine oil cake with jasmine cream wave, raspberry dust with the final memoir of the jasmine flower in its midst.

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It is a well known fact that the change in presidency in Tunisa (1987) and the Tunisian Revelution (2011) were called the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in reference to the flower. It was also used as a symbol during the 2011 Chinese pro democracy protests. Revolutions…this was one ‘culinary’ revolution. The scent is sure to linger for a long time.

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Drunched…Now what is that.

Goa in the monsoons…can one believe that this season too has a ‘happening’ avatar? Imagine the pitter patter of raindrops on the leaves….sometimes torrential downpours….

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the sunlight breaking through causing the rainbow over the Mandovi River to shine like a beacon. A colorful  bridge of pure delight….like one from the mouth to the stomach. Yes there is variety to stimulate one’s spirits.

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One such restaurateur was Xav Norr of Route 66. With pastry ‘life partner’ Nicola, the route this monsoon on a lazy Sunday afternoon had one ‘drunk drenched’ with happiness. It was the Brooklyn experience for a Brunch Foodgasm….in other words that afternoon ‘brooked’ no competition. It was an invite to Mr Nobody’s food trail.

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So what was on offer? Mini bite sized preparations…eat till you say stop. 16 minute bite sized goodies…Yes it’s the Sunday blast….well the locals believe it’s a day of rest, but nowhere was it specified that the stomach should have one too. Juices, Spirits….it’s your choice. Hot and fresh from the kitchen onto the table…

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Peanut butter and jelly sandwich…Yuum, Manhattan Donut Baggie burger…high on taste, small enough to pop, Beer batter Onion rings….crunchy munchy delicacy, Bourbon glazed ham and cheese on rye….Aye…Aye…Aye.

And then there was Nicola’s gooey sweetened preparations. Pure SIN. On a Sunday? Time for confession. Those Gooey cinnabuns rocked..the sexy n wild red velvet cakes popped…in the mouth. Lollipop style. And of course you had to Do (those) nuts….start guessing.

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Time for a sing song? Let Varun Carvalho lead the way. He gets you into the mood.

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A bit hazy…always crazy…it was a lazy crazy afternoon that ranked right up there with the monsoon….unlimited torrential it was pouring flavors and happiness unlimited. It that is not ‘drunched’ what it?